Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Under 250: Cheri

It's very hard to make me hate a pretty looking, historical bodice ripping romance. I'll watch anything with corsets, accents, nice art production, and broken hearts. But Cheri, with it's ridiculous and misplaced cuteness, perpetrated by the awfully fake Michelle Pfeiffer (Lea) and Rupert Friend (Cheri) as lovers separated by years and professions (she's a concubine, he a ne'er-do-well), and the whimsy of the narrator (the usually impressive Director Stephen Frears previously of High Fidelity and The Queen), I could hardly take it. Every moment of the film felt like a poorly done high school production with stilted dialog articulated in the worst of dramatic ways, horribly timed and obvious. The relationship between Cheri and Lea is barely explored, communicated through numerous nude scenes (the only parts of the film that display any real emotion or intensity) and even more numerous scenes of wooden dialog. Worse, the interesting and somewhat disturbing maternal part of Lea's relationship with Cheri is done the injustice of Pfeiffer's breathy "mommy" voice instead of any real communication of it in her acting.

Cheri also tends to suffer from what I now consider the Twilight syndrome. Being in love is all encompassing...for you and your beloved. But sometimes those long talks late into the night about your past, the little looks and smiles and inside jokes are boring to other people. It takes a real artist to communicate those feelings and draw the reader or the watcher in, making them relate and get caught up in the passion. Done correctly, you get the great love stories of the world. Done poorly, you get this film. Whether the fault of the source material (I've never read the original by Colette), the director, or the actors, Cheri is a missed opportunity to give an older actress the chance to dig her teeth in what otherwise would have been an intriguing role.

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